Sacred oils on display in ambries at diocesan churches


The sacred oils consecrated and blessed by Bishop Walker Nickless at the Chrism Mass have now made their way back to the parishes throughout the diocese.


Ambry at St. Lawrence Church in Carroll

Several parishes in each of the deaneries have an ambry – a recessed cabinet in the wall of a church – to house the Oil of Catechumens, Oil of the Sick and the Sacred Chrism. An ambry is traditionally located in the sanctuary or near the baptismal font.


Four of Father Paul Kelly’s five parishes have a display case for oils – St. Rose of Lima in Denison, St. Boniface in Charter Oak, St. Mary in Dow City and St. Mary in Ute.

He noted that the ambries are all similar with three shelves for the oils. At two of the churches the ambry is located in the front of the church and two in the rear of the church, but all are near the baptismal font.

Father Kelly pointed out it is a way “to highlight the significance of the oils by having them on display.”

St. Patrick’s in Estherville just built an ambry for their oils “in memory of one of our parishioners who passed away about two years ago,” said Father Merlin Schrad, pastor.

Ambry at Immaculate Coneption Church in Sioux City

Ambry at Immaculate Coneption Church in Sioux City

“It is located across from the baptismal font at the main entrance of the church,” he said. “It was built by another parishioner who is retired and does wood work projects.”

Sacred Oils

The sacred oils are used for different sacraments in the Catholic Church.

At the Chrism Mass, Bishop Nickless explained the Oil of Chrism is used “to anoint the newly-baptized, to seal the candidates for confirmation and to anoint the hands of presbyters and the heads of bishops at ordinations. The Oil of the Sick is used to give comfort and healing to the infirm. The Oil of Catechumens is used in the preparation of catechumens for their baptism.”

Praying over the Oil of the Sick during the Eucharistic Prayer, the bishop said, “Bless this oil and sanctify it for our use. Make this oil a remedy for all who are anointed with it; heal them in body, in soul and deliver them in every affliction.”

At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Nickless blessed the Oil of the Catechumens. He then poured the balsam and mixed it into the chrism. The bishop breathed over the opening of the vessel of the chrism.

The concelebrants joined the bishop by extending their right hand in prayer.

“And so, Father, we ask you to bless this oil you have created,” said Bishop Nickless with his hands extended. “Fill it with the power of your Holy Spirit through Christ your son. It is from him that chrism takes its name and with chrism you have anointed for yourself priests and kings, prophets and martyrs.”

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